Cardston is a town of about 3,600 people (2016) in the foothills of Southern Alberta. It was founded by a number of Mormon families from Utah and their temple was the first built outside of the United States. The main attraction of the town is its carriage museum, which is well worth the visit.
Cardston was settled in 1887 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) from Utah Territory who travelled via the Macleod-Benton Trail to Alberta in one of the century's last wagon migrations. The official founder of the town is Charles Ora Card, after whom the town is named. The combined church and school was completed by January 29 the following year after their arrival.
Primary industries are education, health care, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and tourism. Cardston is one of the few communities in Canada where alcohol cannot be sold or purchased.
Cardston has a humid continental climate. Along with the rest of southern Alberta, Cardston is subject to chinooks, which often bring temperatures in mid-winter well above 10 °C (50 °F). This same pattern results in more than 200 days of wind a year.
Cardston is at the junction of Highways 2 and 5. While a wagon train would be the most stylish way of getting to Cardston, those with a car can make the 80-km trip south from Lethbridge in about an hour via Highway 5.
Cardston is about 2½ hours south of Calgary on Highway 2.
No buses or trains reach Cardston.
- 1 Remington-Alberta Carriage Museum, 623 Main St, ☏ . Open daily 9AM-6PM July through Labour Day, 10AM-5PM remainder of year. The museum houses the largest collection of carriages in North America and tells the tale of horse and carriage days with entertaining stories, videos and free guided tours. It has a fire hall, carriage factory, restoration shop, working stable, carriage rides, carriage rentals, a restaurant, and a gift shop. The museum was mentioned as a destination of Patty and Selma's vacation during the "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore" episode of The Simpsons. Museum: $9/5 (child/adult); Carriage rides: $4/2.50.
- 2 Cardston Alberta Temple, 348 3rd Ave W. A large geometric stone building with a commanding presence. As of July, 2013, the temple is one of eight in Canada. It was constructed by Mormon pioneers who settled Cardston in 1887. The temple became the centerpiece of the town, and it was the first temple constructed by the church outside of the United States. Non-Mormons cannot enter the temple, but can tour the Visitor Center at the entrance.
- The Carriage House Theatre, 353 Main St, ☏ . This theatre was constructed in 1912 by Mark Spencer, and underwent renovations in 1937 and 1992. It seats 350 and hosts films, community theatre and professional summer theatre.
- [formerly dead link] Card Pioneer Home, 89 3 Ave W. A genuine "Little House on the Prairie", it was built by Cardston’s founder Charles Ora Card in 1887, and served as a community centre and stopping place for travellers until the first hotel was built in 1894. The log structure stands in its original location and is open for public visits as a Registered Provincial Historic site.
- Courthouse Museum. The Courthouse Museum shows how a rough country changed dramatically. The unique sandstone structure was built in 1907 from stone quarried near Cardston. The building’s profile and interior stand as a monument to Cardston’s early pioneer artisans. It was used longer than any other courthouse in Alberta. The building displays the judge's bench, witness box, and other artifacts. Original jail cells, including graffiti, can be found. The Courthouse Museum is a Registered Provincial Historic site.
- Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park/Áísínai'pi National Historic Site (125 km (78 mi) east of Cardston along Highway 501), ☏ . One of the largest areas of protected prairie in the Alberta park system, a nature preserve and protection for rock art created by Plains People. There are 50 rock art sites, with thousands of figures, as well as archaeological sites. The Milk River valley contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.
- 1 Police Outpost Provincial Park, Mountain View (32 kilometres (20 mi) south of Cardston, on the Canada/United States border, on the shores of Outpost Lake.), ☏ . Birding: loons, swans, sandhill cranes and other species in wetlands, along trails and on the lake. Cross-country skiing: 7 km of ungroomed trails. Fishing, power boating.
- Our Place Cafe, 207 Main Street, ☏ . M-F 7AM–4PM, Sa 7PM-noon. Traditional breakfasts and lunches. Cash only.
- Cobblestone Manor, 173 7th Ave W, ☏ , toll-free: . Jul-Sep: M-F noon-2PM, 5PM-8PM; Sa 5PM-8PM. Oct-Jun: M-F noon-2PM; F Sa 5PM-8PM. Buffet Friday and Saturday evenings.
- Dave's Drive In and Sports Grill, 562 1st Avenue West, ☏ . Burgers, fries, onion rings, shakes, chicken tenders, shrimp, hotdog, poutine, many flavours of milkshakes.
- Mings Garden, 262 Main St, ☏ . Chinese food.
This is a dry community, no alcohol is served in the town. The nearest liquor store is the Mountain Spirits Liquor Store 46 min west along Highway 5 in Waterton Lakes National Park.
- South Country Inn, 404 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: . Clean but fairly basic rooms. Rooms have Wi-Fi and there is an indoor pool and guest laundry facilities. From $130.
- Cobblestone Manor, 173 7th Ave W, ☏ , toll-free: . Breakfast included. $127/night for one bedroom, $150/night for two bedroom or for whole apartment.
- [dead link] The Outpost Motel, 37 8 Ave W, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Free parking. Kitchenettes available. From $83.
- Waterton Lakes National Park is half an hour away and offers many outdoor recreation options and beautiful scenery.
- Frank Slide Interpretive Centre: In 1903, the mining town of Frank, Alberta, was devastated by 82 million tonnes of limestone crashing down from Turtle Mountain. The Frank Slide Interpretative Centre in the Crowsnest Pass, 130 km (81 mi) northwest of Cardston, tells of one of the geatest natural disasters in Canadian history.
|Routes through Cardston|
|Calgary ← Fort Macleod ←||N S||→ → becomes → Babb → Great Falls|
|Waterton Lakes National Park ←||W E||→ Lethbridge|